Three Carroll College students were arrested recently for allegedly delivering 2 pounds of marijuana to an undercover drug officer in a sting operation.
Zain Kahn, 19, Dustin Elliot, 21, and Samuel Jennings, 19, were taken into custody on Dec. 12 after they met the undercover officer with the "BC bud" at Garrison as part of a pre-arranged buy.
Continued investigation into the alleged drug operation led to the Dec. 17 arrest of Marc Stockton, 26, of Billings, and later, the arrests of University of Montana student Andrew Eastman, 25, and Missoula resident Richard Biggs, 26.
According to information released by law enforcement officials Friday, the investigation by the Missouri River Drug Task Force, the Montana Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force began with several purchases of the particularly potent variety of marijuana from 17-year-old Helena resident, Chad E. Cole.
Detectives traced the flow of marijuana from Cole to Zahn, Cole's alleged supplier, and arranged the buy at Garrison.
Further investigation indicated that the drugs were allegedly being purchased from students from UM.
Law enforcement officials assert that Stockton was collecting money for drug debts and for the delivery of drugs in advance of payment in Billings and Helena, and the money collected by Stockton was to be delivered to suspects in Missoula.
At the time of Stockton's arrest, $25,000 in cash and a handgun were located in his vehicle.
A search warrant executed on the residences of Eastman and Biggs resulted in charges of conspiracy to distribute dangerous drugs for the pair, and an additional charge of possession of cocaine for Biggs.
Further investigation resulted in the identification of additional suspects, the seizure of five vehicles, a handgun, a shotgun and more than $70,000 in cash.
Additional arrests and seizures are anticipated, according to a press release issued late Friday.
"This case is an outstanding example of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies working together under the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program to combat the drug problem in Montana," Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Cheryl Liedle said.
BC bud is normally grown in British Columbia, Canada and contains very high levels of THC. It has a street value of between $3,500 and $5,000 per pound.
"The Washington state border has traditionally been the main port of entry for the drug, but Montana is also a preferred port of entry for the drug from Canada," said Helena Police Chief Troy McGee. Though 9-11 events have curbed BC Bud drug trafficking through Montana, our borders are still vulnerable."